Trade deadline: Five deals we want to see
2. Suns gear up for playoff run
Suns acquire: Thaddeus Young
76ers acquire: Emeka Okafor, Archie Goodwin, Washington’s top-12 protected 2014 first round pick, cash considerations
The rumor mill comes alive to claim Thaddeus Young, who has been linked to countless teams over the past five months of rebuilding. None, though, makes for a more perfect fit than the upstart Suns. Any trade partner for Philadelphia needs to be in a position to offer decent assets atop an expiring contract, a prerequisite that Phoenix could meet without issue. Beyond that, the Suns have a distinct need for a player of Young’s particular profile. Rare are those NBA bigs who can both space the floor to the three-point line and blow up a pick-and-roll as a defender, yet one just so happens to be available to any team willing to give up the requisite assets.
I see reason for the Suns to take the plunge, and corresponding reason for the Sixers to bite on an offer structured around Archie Goodwin and a late first-round pick for the 2014 draft. Okafor is included strictly to satisfy the NBA’s salary-matching rules, with a cash kickback headed Philly’s way to help offset some of the salary added to the Sixers’ payroll. There are also an a number of permutations to this trade that could make sense, involving any combination of the following:
• Markieff Morris (in place of Goodwin)
• Marcus Morris (in place of Goodwin)
• Jason Richardson (as to make the salary input and output more equal)
• Indiana’s 2014 first round pick (top-12 protected; via Philadelphia)
• Minnesota’s 2014 first round pick (top-13 protected; via Philadelphia)
• Low-cost filler: Ish Smith (PHX), Viacheslav Kravtsov (PHX), Dionte Christmas (PHX), James Anderson (PHI), Arnett Moultrie (PHI), Hollis Thompson (PHI),
Regardless, the basic incentives are the same: A versatile scorer and defender for a Suns team that could use both, an athletic wing prospect (in the case of Goodwin/the Morris twins) and another first rounder for a rebuilding team looking to stock-pile assets. It may not be the kind of offer that would bowl over Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, but there is logic (and cap space) in it.
3. Hawks, Bobcats swap underrated guards
Bobcats acquire: Kyle Korver
Hawks acquire: Gerald Henderson
This is a pretty clean swap from a salary standpoint, making the motivations for this deal almost solely a function of talent and fit (rare in the NBA these days). Charlotte’s angle is simple: A team that ranks 28th in the league in three-point attempts per game and in the bottom half of the league in three-point percentage guns for one of the best shooters in the league. Korver isn’t just a spot-shooting type to park in the corner, but a player who actively creates space for his teammates by curling into potential shots. When Korver moves, so too does the defense; opposing wings have to chase him, opposing bigs have to shade in his direction, and structurally an entire defense can be compromised just by tilting toward the threat of a Korver catch-and-shoot. That makes him one of the league’s foremost facilitators for post play and dribble penetration, both of which are hugely important for a team that features Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker.
Plus, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the trio of Walker, Henderson, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist just doesn’t — and may never — command enough attention on the perimeter to keep defenses honest. None among them is even a league-average three-point shooter, though Walker is closest and Kidd-Gilchrist is otherwise Charlotte’s most promising individual defender. That makes Henderson the odd man out for both his and the Bobcats’ sake, as no one in Charlotte is much empowered by lineups devoid of floor spacing. Korver is something of a one-man fix in that department, with the passing skill and defensive competence necessary to round out his contributions.
Henderson, in turn, would land with the Hawks — a team that could make excellent use of his versatile game. Together with Paul Millsap and the injured Al Horford, Henderson would add to an incredibly well-rounded core. None among them is a superstar, though Horford, Millsap, and Henderson can all defend, can all play pick-and-roll, can all move without the ball, can all work from the post, and can all shoot. The basis of their team would be stout and flexible, which would then allow Hawks GM Danny Ferry to chase players at other positions with more idiosyncratic games or specific needs. Korver’s broad offensive value provided some of that same quality, though Atlanta both upgraded its wing defense and imported some creative dynamism in the move wile landing a player six years Korver’s junior. Even without looking too far forward, Henderson’s gradual build would seem to make more sense for a Hawks team with plenty of construction left to do.